Graphics and Windowing


VESA (vesad)

vesad is not really a driver, it writes to a framebuffer given by firmware (via UEFI or BIOS software interrupts).

Because we don't have GPU drivers yet, we rely on what firmware gives to us.


On Linux/BSDs, the GPU communication with the kernel is done by the DRM system (Direct Renderig Manager, libdrm library), that Mesa3D drivers use to work (Mesa3D implement OpenGL/Vulkan drivers, DRM expose the hardware interfaces).

Said this, on Redox the GPU driver needs to be an user-space daemon which use the system calls/schemes to talk with the hardware.

The last step is to implement the Redox backend in our Mesa3D fork/recipe to use these user-space daemons.

Software Rendering

We don't have GPU drivers yet but LLVMpipe (OpenGL CPU emulation) and VirtIO (2D accleration for a virtual machine) is working.


The Orbital desktop environment provides a display server, window manager and compositor.

Comparison with X11/Wayland

This display server is more simple than X11 and Wayland making the porting task more quick and easy, it's not advanced like X11 and Wayland yet but enough to port most Linux/BSD programs.

Compared to Wayland, Orbital has one server implementation, while Wayland provide protocols for compositors.


  • Custom Resolutions
  • App Launcher (bottom bar)
  • File Manager
  • Text Editor
  • Calculator
  • Terminal Emulator

If you hold the Super key (generally the key with a Windows logo) it will show all keyboard shortcuts in a pop-up.


The programs written with these libraries can run on Orbital.

  • SDL1.2
  • SDL2
  • winit
  • softbuffer
  • Slint (through winit and softbuffer)
  • Iced (through winit and softbuffer)
  • egui (can use winit or SDL2)


Apps (or 'clients') create a window and draw to it by using the orbclient client.

Client Examples

If you wish to see examples of client apps that use orbclient to "talk" to Orbital and create windows and draw to them, then you can find some in orbclient/examples folder.


If you want to port a program to Orbital, see below:

  • If the program is written in Rust probably it works on Orbital because the winit crate is used in most places, but there are programs that access X11 or Wayland directly. You need to port these programs to winit and merge on upstream.

  • If the program is written in C or C++ and access X11 or Wayland directly, it must be ported to the Orbital library.